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Ornamental style

(343 words)

Author(s): Menci, Giovanna (Florence)
[German version] According to [1], Greek book-hands in which the lower and/or upper ends of letters are decorated (sometimes additionally) with horizontal or vertical strokes (English finials or serifs; French patins, empattements, apices; Italian apici ornamentali). These 'ornamental strokes' (= OS) can be traced back to influences from epigraphy, Lat. script or even the connecting strokes in Greek cursive writing; however, the typically Hellenistic tendency towards ornamentation may be an underlying factor. OS can be found in n…


(134 words)

Author(s): Menci, Giovanna (Florence)
[German version] A graphic symbol, already attested in the earliest Greek papyri ( Papyrus) written in cursive (3rd cent. BC). It connects the last stroke of a letter with the first one of the following letter, sometimes combining the two, even changing the shape of the letters. Its usage is exclusively limited to cursive writing (rarely with semi-cursives), in which several letters combined by ligature can produce a single joined chain. The end of this chain is written exclusively as determined by graphic criteria and may not necessarily coincide with the end of syllables or words. Menci,…

Epigraphical style

(257 words)

Author(s): Menci, Giovanna (Florence)
[German version] Inscription style refers to the script of the oldest Greek literary  papyri and papyrus documents ( c. 4th-3rd cents. BC); it is a  majuscule which imitates the style of contemporaneous inscriptions. Records are, for instance, the papyrus of the Persians by  Timotheus of Miletus [3], the papyrus from Derveni [1], the so-called lament of Artemisia [4], and few other papyri from Saccara and Hibeh [2]. The inscriptional character is revealed in the bilinear, rigid, uniform and heavy strokes: in the forms of Ε (in four st…


(836 words)

Author(s): Eleuteri, Paolo (Venice) | Menci, Giovanna (Florence)
In contrast to minuscules, majuscules are the scripts in which the letters of the alphabet are written between two often only imaginary horizontal lines. [German version] A. Greek script In Greek palaeography, majuscules are also called capitals and uncials, although the latter term is very controversial. Theoretically all Greek scripts before the emergence of the minuscules ought to be called majuscules (not only the actual and the stylized book hands, but also the half cursives, cursives and document hand [1. 132-133, 137…

Document hand

(384 words)

Author(s): Menci, Giovanna (Florence) | Eleuteri, Paolo (Venice)
[German version] I. Greek The Greek  documents passed down on papyri ( Papyrus) and ostraka (  óstrakon ) are mostly written in cursive script ( Writing, styles of) or chancellery script. However, in the case of the earliest testimonials of the Greek script in Egypt (4th to the beginning of the 3rd cent. BC) when there was still no significant difference between an actual cursive script and the book hand in the  epigraphical style, the few documents passed down were written in book hands. …


(1,305 words)

Author(s): Giovè Marchioli, Nicoletta (Triest) | Menci, Giovanna (Florence)
[German version] I. Definition Tachygraphy is the conventional term for the ancient technique of speed writing, which replaced letters, syllables, words or short sentences by symbols, and was practiced by sēmeiográphoi and tachygráphoi (Lat. notarii and exceptores) [1.30-31]. The existence of mutual Greco-Roman influences may be assumed, although the priority of either contemporaneous system is difficult to ascertain. The chronological priority of the Greek system might be attested by a letter of Cicero from 45 BC (Cic. Att. 13,32), in which he uses the Greek expression dià sēmeí…


(1,247 words)

Author(s): Menci, Giovanna (Florence) | Eleuteri, Paolo (Venice)
[German version] I. Definition Since the 18th cent., the term 'uncials' has been used to describe a Latin script which was current from the 4th to 9th cents. AD. It is derived from a misunderstanding of a passage in Jerome (Praef. ad Iob, PL 28, 1142), which mentions uncialibus ... litteris (lit. 'letters of one uncia', i.e. inch-high letters; cf. Uncia), probably a reference to the majuscule scripts of the illuminated MSS [1]. In Greek palaeography, the term uncial has been replaced by the term “majuscule” to describe a majuscule script. Menci, Giovanna (Florence) Bibliography 1 P. May…

Severe style

(600 words)

Author(s): Menci, Giovanna (Florence) | Willers, Dietrich (Berne)
[German version] [1] Writing style Name given by [6. 124] to a group of Greek majuscule book-hands (Majuscule); characteristics are stiff, angular strokes, caused by the ‘severe’ letter forms (with a predominance of straight rather than curved strokes), and the contrast between narrow ( e. g. Ε, Θ, Ο, Σ) and broad letters ( e. g. Α, Δ, Κ, Λ, Μ, Ν, Π, Τ). [5] used the term Bakchylideische Unziale (‘Bacchylidean uncials’), referring to the most famous example, the book roll of Bacchylides' epinicia (PLond. inv. 733 = PLit. Lond. 46). [7. 22], on the other hand, i…


(2,775 words)

Author(s): Giovè Marchioli, Nicoletta (Triest) | Eleuteri, Paolo (Venice) | Menci, Giovanna (Florence)
[German version] A. General An abbreviation (Latin notae, sigla, siglae) consists of a semantic element -- the alphabetic lettering of the abbreviated word -- and a symbolic element, signs referring to the summarizing character of what is written. The use of abbreviations is justified for a number of practical reasons: first, because they make reading quikker and more accurate, and secondly, because they save time and space. In classical antiquity and, in a wider sense, right up to the late Middle Ages,…

Writing styles

(2,658 words)

Author(s): Eleuteri, Paolo (Venice) | Menci, Giovanna (Florence) | De Robertis, Teresa (Florence)
[German version] I. Definition The concept of writing styles (WS) is used in Greek palaeography to classify certain frequently used and constantly recurring script types. The concept of style (or style levels or stylization level) also encompasses the various calligraphic levels of a hand. In Latin palaeography, however, WS are rarely talked of; instead, stylization or the type of a script are used to differentiate between book hands. Eleuteri, Paolo (Venice) II. Greek Writing Styles [German version] A. Classification Since the work of Turner [5], the following criteria a…